A psychological study of diabetics

M. Ando, S. I. Ando, T. Takeuchi, T. Yamamoto, K. Fukushima

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Psychological tests were administered to patients 2 months after the initial diagnosis of diabetes to determine personality traits characteristic of diabetics and to study the psychological aspects of diabetes control. The patients studied were diagnosed for the first time as having non-insulin- dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) at this hospital, and were all under the age of 65. Subjects with HbA1c of 7.5% or more at the time of initial diagnosis were considered as having diabetes mellitus (the DM group). At 6 months after diagnosis, those DM patients who had HbA1c under 7.5% were classed as well-controlled (15 cases), and those with HbA1c of 7.5% or more were classed as poorly-controlled (13 cases). For comparison, a group of 12 healthy subjects were also studied. Methods: The DM group was subjected to a physical examination, family history, and study of the patient's life style. Two months after the initial diagnosis, a psychological evaluation was conducted, using CMI, YG, TEG, MAS, Baum test, and Rorschach test. Results: Obesity was more common in the well-controlled group than in the poorly- controlled group. However, there was no notable difference between the two groups in insulin secretory ability. There was also no significant difference in terms of family history or alcohol and tobacco use. There was no difference between the well- and poorly-controlled groups in the written responses to the psychological tests: however, significant differences did emerge in the Baum and Rorschach tests. Based on these results, it seems that early diabetic patients experience few subjective feelings of struggle or anxiety in their approach to disease. In terms of deep personality structure, however, despite the fact that they differ little from healthy controls in terms of problem-solving or problem awareness, they lack sensitivity, maturity, personal strength, a sense of self, adaptability. This combination of traits forms a distinct trend in the diabetic personality, indicating there is indeed a possibility that personality plays a role in the onset of diabetes. The results of psychological testing for the poorly-controlled groups also show that, in terms of deep personality, such patients tend to be stubborn and less adaptable, lack will power and self-motivation. In some cases psychological therapy may be advisable as an adjunct to medicinal. Therefore, we conduct psychological evaluation of diabetics with emotionally- caused obesity and those with family problems, and inform them about cases of clinical improvements in diabetes controls. In the course of psychological treatment of diabetic patients, it is first necessary to relieve their anxiety about functioning normally in society. Patients with poorly- controlled disease are inherently less able to cope with such anxiety. Continuing psychological therapy may thus be an effective tool towards allowing diabetics to find psychological relief.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
JournalJapanese Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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